Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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 Chapter 38


     Sharon decided to be shameless, saying to Tim at breakfast, “I was asleep when you came in last night. Was your evening very educational?”

As Tim bumbled, Doris asked satirical questions in rapid succession.

He finally answered, “Everything was very smooth and luxurious from beginning to end. Less hectic than with Melissa, but satisfying for all concerned.”

Meredith arrived soon afterwards, and, while she was still behind Tim, Sharon exchanged some hand signals with her. Meredith then threw her arms around Tim from the back, and, putting on a deep sultry voice, whispered, “I didn’t get enough last night, Timmy. I need more.”

Tim would have fallen out of his chair if she hadn’t steadied him.

     Sharon realized that sex had become a bit of a joke for all of them. She knew that men joked about it in low ways, as might a couple of women in private. But Meredith, partly because of her reduced inhibitions, was letting them all in on it at once.

     Enoch and Diana then arrived, and asked about Tim’s evening in a more restrained way. He replied,  “It was actually rather enlightening. Janet goes to classical music concerts, plays, and art museums, often going to New York, London, or Paris. I had to explain that we don’t, even though we could afford the price of the tickets.”

Doris replied, “I do, at least in Boston. It may be because I’m older.”

Sharon pointed out, “Part of it is that we’ve been in school, doing pretty much what teachers and professors tell us to do. Real adults are more enterprising. I bet Enoch has big plans, and he and Diana will do all kinds of good things in London.”

Tim replied, “Come to think of it, Meredith writes poetry and Howie writes plays. That counts.”

Diana added, “And I produce porno movies. That has to be the low end of the scale.”

Sharon, raising her hand in jest, said, “Tim and I are making sex toys. How about that!”

Meredith asked, “Speaking of sex toys, how is the male version coming along?”

Tim, seemingly somewhat defensively, replied, “It’s more complicated. There has to be a hydraulic system and an electric pump.”

“You know, penises aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, as far as women are concerned. You might experiment with something entirely different. Perhaps an abrasive mechanism that starts gently, but can be intensified.”

“Would it then still be male?”

“Perfume for the female, after-shave lotion for the male.”


“I also like to be held tightly at such times. Maybe some bungee cords in the arms and hands that hook together.”

Sharon thought that Meredith was joking, but wasn’t sure.  After breakfast, Doris caught Sharon alone and said, “I’m a bit nervous about Meredith and the sex toys.”

“It’s pretty clear that she isn’t quite back to normal. But I think she was mostly joking.”

“She’s certainly vivacious and lots of fun this way, but I’m afraid that euphoria could tip into mania. My psychiatrist friend warned me about that.”

“I can imagine. But mania doesn’t necessarily mean jumping off a bridge with an umbrella for a parachute, does it?”

“I don’t think so, but I hardly know.”

“Well, the bear-woman, such as it is, is pretty much done. I’ll suggest to Tim that we stow it away in that space under the cockpit, and hope that everyone forgets about it.”

     A little later in the day, Sharon put the matter to Tim, who agreed. She then asked, “Have we gone utterly crazy?”

“Like Meredith?”


“Well, everything followed more or less in logical order. Meredith’s problem, and a quasi-substitute for Jimmy. And, then, our carpentry project.”

“Is this where philosophy leads one?”

“It can happen.”

“Shit also happens.”

“If you want to eat, you have to shit.”

Tim still smiled, but his tone was a little sharper than usual. Sharon gave him an affectionate hug. She realized that, in reaction to the poisonous atmosphere of their parents’ household, she went overboard in keeping everything on an emotional even keel. Some time later, she said to Doris, “I realize that, with Tim, I go to extremes to see to it that cross words are never spoken. Is that good?”

“The conventional wisdom is to let cross words fly, as long as they aren’t really hurtful, and then make up. I probably uttered too many cross words in my marriage, but I don’t think I could have held them to zero.”

“You and I have never had cross words.”

“I made a few jokes about your leaving dirty towels around.”

“I remember. But I was a guest, determined to make up for any little mistakes.”

“Sure. Marriage is ten times harder. The advantage of your brother-sister relation is that you know each other so well that there aren’t many failures of communication.”

“I guess.”

“Even when people communicate, they can still fight. But a lot of unnecessary fighting is avoided.”

    The next Saturday, Duane dropped Chris off. When Sharon informed him of recent developments, he replied, “I wonder how a being from another galaxy would perceive our sexual procedures. He’d begin by cataloguing them, and would probably make no moral judgments at all. We don’t talk about sexually perverse cockroaches, or try to keep them from mating with grasshoppers.”

“You’re even more philosophical than Tim, Chris. We’ll have to talk to Diana about grasshopper-cockroach pornography.”

“There is one thing I’ve noticed with the other school kids. For most of them, sex or the lack of it is just about the biggest thing in their lives. If you people aren’t accomplishing anything else, you’re trivializing sex. That’s probably good.”

“For some people, there doesn’t seem to be any problem. Howie and Audrey do just fine, and probably don’t even think about sex very much. Diana and Enoch may settle into something like that. Meredith has massive problems in that area, and Doris may once have had. You and I and Tim are struggling in our various ways.”

“We don’t think we have the problem solved, and aren’t even sure what it is. I think, despite his age, you can probably count my dad in as well.”

“However, unlike some of the kids you know, we aren’t so obsessed as to be immobilized.”

“No. In fact, I’m beginning on a sort of project.”

“A scientific one?”

“Not really. I don’t know enough science and math for that. But I’ve been reading economics papers. They do have quasi-mathematical models, but they aren’t very rigorous, and the basic concepts aren’t well defined.”

“So you want to get at those concepts and treat them as primitives in a system of logic?”

“Pretty much. For example, one might take as basic such things as ‘x owns y at time z’, ‘x trades y to z for w at time u’, and so on.”

“Ownership is going to have a different meaning in different cultures.”

“Yes. Ownership of a boat may, or may not, include responsibility for disposing of it if it sinks in such a way to block a channel. And so on, indefinitely.”

“A big project, indeed.”

“Moreover, economics is a behavioral discipline, amounting to the psychology of commerce. So, the concepts of desire and belief have to come in. For example, ‘x believes to degree y that z desires to degree w to trade an object, u, that z owns at time t to x  for v, an object x owns at t,  at time t + n’.”

“That makes implicit reference to nine variables. Is this getting out of hand?”

“Alternatively, instead of saying that x desires to do something, you can talk about the probability that he will, in fact, do it when the time comes. That choice of language will affect everything that comes afterwards.”

“Chris, this will keep you going for quite some time, even before you get everything symbolized and made mathematical.”

“I’m soliciting help from all comers, you and Tim included.”

Sharon didn’t feel like an intellectual adventure at the moment, and suggested to Chris that they borrow the double kayak from Enoch. He wasn’t around, but Diana urged them on.

     Sharon noticed that, even when she stopped paddling and lay back conversationally, they still kept moving at a good pace. She asked suddenly, “Now that you’ve been around Meredith a bit, what do you think?”

“A very pretty and sophisticated young lady, a light year or two ahead of me. I feel bumbly and tongue-tied when I’m around her.”

“You do know her recent history, don’t you?”

“Oh yes. She’s talked about it quite openly when I’ve been present.”

“We can’t figure out whether she’s making progress and returning to normal or not.”

“I have no idea. Isn’t it just a question of whether someone is likely to do dangerous things?”

“There, again, we hardly know.”

“With the cohesion of this group, it seems that she might hardly ever be alone.”

“Hardly any of us are ever alone. That’s been a problem at times.”

“I can see. Is it suicide that you’re worried about with Meredith?”

“According to the books, that’s a danger in this sort of case.”

“Does she try to go off alone?”

“No. The rest of us make a point of some solitary expeditions, but Meredith doesn’t seem inclined.”

“Then, if someone’s with her almost all the time, it sounds as if you’re doing everything you reasonably could do.”

“And we shouldn’t try to do things we can’t do. Thank you, Chris.”

A blast of noxious scent from the bait barge caught them, and Sharon started paddling vigorously to get out of its lee.

Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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